Essential Fatty Acids in Pregnancy

EFAs for healthy moms and babies!

In our practice, we spend a large portion of each prenatal visit educating each pregnant mom about how to take optimal care of herself and her growing baby. We talk about nutrition, exercise, and sleep. We talk about her support network and her relationship, her stress level, and her changing emotions. Another important area we address is whether supplementation would be helpful for supporting wellness. A particular area I emphasize in our prenatal care is a mom’s intake of essential fatty acids.

Unlike other fats in our diet, essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a type the body cannot make on its own. They are considered essential because we must get them from a food or a supplement. In all people, EFAs are needed to make hormones, keep inflammation at bay, support our mood, and ensure proper functioning of our nervous system. EFAs are of great benefit to a pregnant woman because they reduce her risk of preterm birth as well as her risk for postpartum depression. Moreover, what we see in practice and what we know from clinical research tells us that in pregnancy, EFAs are of great value to the baby because EFAs:

• Build strong, healthy cells and tissues
• Support optimal brain and eye development
• Reduce the lifetime risk of allergies and diabetes
• Are associated with increased intelligence in childhood and lower rates of anxiety, depression, and aggression
• Are associated with a healthy birth weight

EFAs can be obtained in the diet by eating certain animal foods. While some plant foods such as walnuts and flax seeds contain small amounts of EFAs, these fats are considered precursors to the desirable EFA forms and only small amounts are actually converted within our bodies. Organic grass-fed beef and bison, pastured chicken eggs, butter from grass-fed cows, and wild Alaskan salmon are all great EFA sources. I advise every pregnant mom to include these foods in her diet. I often prescribe a daily EFA supplement too unless a mom feels she is able to get ample amounts of these foods on a very consistent basis. I prescribe daily fish oil, typically in the form of cod liver oil, to pregnant moms for a well-absorbed, reliable EFA source. This supplement is taken daily and should be continued while breastfeeding. Small amounts of cod liver oil can even be given to your baby once solid foods are introduced.

Unfortunately not all brands of fish oil are created equal so it is important to ask your midwife or naturopath which brands are free of chemical processing and contamination. Also be sure to check-in about dosage because this is individual for each pregnant woman depending on her diet and health history.

Here’s to healthy, nourished moms and babies!


Important Precautions for Fire Season

Even without tuning in to the Air Quality Index ratings, its obvious the current level of fire smoke in Southern Oregon is hard on the whole system.  Smoke is the mixture of airborne particulates and gases. Symptoms of smoke inhalation very and depend on the length of exposure, density of smoke, and our predisposition to respiratory sensitivities. Common symptoms associated with smoke inhalation and decrease of oxygen intake include sore or hoarse throat; itchy or burning eyes; difficult, shallow, or painful breathing; headache; dry or wet cough; runny, congested, or painful nose.  At Three Sisters Midwifery we’ve been wondering, what can be done to protect pregnant mama’s and new babies? We called the public health department and consulted with a local obstetrician and naturopathic physician to gather the following recommendations.  Please protect your sweet selves, and your little ones, whether they be in your arms or in your bellies.

– On 7/31/13, the AQI in Medford was around 270, in the “VERY UNHEALTHY” category.  Based on this rating, pregnant women and children should avoid time outdoors, especially ALL physical activity outdoors.

– Check updated information at AIRNow.

– If you have a newborn, as long as the AQI is above 100, avoid prolonged periods outside with your baby.

– To learn more about the AQI rating system and the health risks associated with smoke pollution, refer to this brochure from the Environmental Protection Agency.

– If outside during smoky conditions, wear a mask or respirator at all times, one that filters particulate pollution and that is “N95 approved”.

– When inside, keep doors and windows closed.

– Consider investing in an air filter for your home, one that has hepa and active charcoal filters.  If you have a cooling system in your home, check that the filters have been replaced recently.

– Breath through your nose.  Its your bodies natural air filter!

– Drink lots of water and eat extra antioxidants to protect your cells from the pollution and keep your immune system strong – fresh fruits and vegetables!  Berries and dark leafy greens are especially good sources.  Foods with anti-inflammatory properties will also support your lungs and prevent irritation, such as ginger, turmeric, and pineapple.

– Warm liquids help clear bronchial passages.  Consider brewing tea with some of these immune and respiratory-supportive herbs: Red Clover, Calendula, Mullein leaf, Elder flowers, Elecampane, Lemongrass, Rose hips, Licorice root, Rosemary, Fennel Seeds and Thyme.

– Talk to your midwife about any discomforts or symptoms you are having to develop a treatment plan.



HypnoBirthing Makes a Big Difference!

I’ve been teaching childbirth education classes and attending births for over 30 years. I can say with my FULLEST HEART that I have never seen anything as effective as HypnoBirthing for making a positive difference in the experience of moms and babies at birth. If you are pregnant, or wanting to be pregnant, please come to our Birth Story Sharing on July 13th in Jacksonville. Everyone is welcome! Bring your questions and your curiosity. You’ll meet the babies and hear the parents’ stories.

Our next class series starts end of July and goes through August. You must preregister for the series. We are keeping it small. See below for dates, times, location info and more. Call or email with any questions, or to preregister. HypnoBirthing makes a difference! Calmer moms, calmer babies. The relaxation optimizes the hormonal flow of labor so the birthing body takes over and does what it knows how to do, without interference.

HypnoBirthing July/August 2013

Birth Story Sharing
Saturday July 13, from 4-5:30. (FREE event – All are welcome)
Very inspiring and encouraging! This is an intro to the class and a chance to ask questions too.

HypnoBirthing Five-Class Series begins two weeks later: 2-4:30pm on Saturdays
Class One July 27
Class Two August 3
Class Three August 10
Class Four August 17
Class Five August 24

Birth Stories and Classes are all held at our practice classroom space at
Three Sisters Midwifery, 235 W Main St, Jacksonville OR 97530 (This is the second floor of the Gogi’s Restaurant Building. It’s fine to park in the Gogi’s parking lot.)

The class tuition is normally $250 including all materials. (Materials include a textbook, 2 CD’s, 2 notebooks of handouts and practice scripts).
Reduced Cost! Good news is that for those registering by July 13, we are offering a special discount of $25. (To preregister and save your space in the class, CONTACT US and we will send you registration form.  Return the Registration Form  with your $50 non-refundable deposit to Three Sisters Midwifery, P.O. Box 1394, Jacksonville, OR 97530)

For moms who desire a HypnoBirthing Doula at their labor and birth, we offer a package which includes reduced tuition. You can find out more about our doula service at

Come back for a free refresher: For moms who are in their first or second trimester, we encourage you to attend any of our other HypnoBirthing classes in any other series before your birthing time, at no additional charge.

You can check out this short video of former HypnoBirthing parents sharing their thoughts about HypnoBirthing at

We are happy to talk to you by phone or email anytime if you have more questions or if you’ve started on your relaxation practice and want some input…..

Again, Congratulations! from Rhione Zeixchel and Jae Rowan, Instructors
Phone 541-833-0999 Email

Exercise in Pregnancy

We are excited to feature a post from local doctor of physical therapy, Amanda Olson. Amanda works at Jackson County Physical Therapy in Phoenix and is the women’s health physical therapist in the Rogue Valley. She specializes in treatment of pregnancy and postpartum discomforts as well as pelvic floor therapy. Amanda’s blog, Running Your Body, regularly posts about exercise, gluten-free cooking, and women’s health. Today’s post is about running while pregnant. Enjoy:

Click here to read about running during pregnancy and visit Amanda’s blog



A Special Offer for Our Mamas!

Healthy food grows happy and vigorous babies.  Since midwives know the incredible value of fresh local food, we are creating partnerships with Southern Oregon farmers.  We want to support the important work they do and find ways to make their bountiful harvest more accessible to pregnant mamas.  This season we are thrilled to offer our clients a 5% discount on CSA memberships with the Siskiyou Sustainable Co-operative, a partnership of a dozen family farms and specialty food producers.  By joining a CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture), you receive a weekly box of farm-fresh produce through the season.  With the Siskiyou Sustainable Co-operative, you can customize your box to fit your family’s needs with the option to include local grains, bread, cheese, eggs and poultry.  This saves time shopping and guarantees a continual flow of delicious, nourishing foods to support your health and happiness!  The first delivery of the season is Thursday, June 13 with convenient pick-up locations throughout the Rogue Valley, including Three Sisters Midwifery in Jacksonville!  Save time and money.  Nourish your family.  Sign up today!  Its easy online.  Oregon Trail cards accepted.

Nutrition for Babies

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of teaching a class about newborn care with three other local naturopathic doctors. In our two-hour class we covered lots of information about optimizing a baby’s health. We discussed sleep, nutrition, immune health, and temperament. The four of us are very passionate about educating new and expectant parents about how they can give their babies a great start and impact lifelong health. I was excited to have the chance to talk about nutrition and babies. Here’s a little snippet of what I discussed ~

Most of us think of infant nutrition as a very simple matter: babies drink milk, right? We have heard the many benefits of breastmilk and we know it is the perfect food for babies. This is all true! And yet, there is certainly a lot that goes into making great breastmilk. A nursing mama’s nutrition is very important. It takes an incredible amount of energy for a woman’s body to make milk—she needs adequate rest, plenty fluids, and an abundance of healthy foods. I advise women to focus on eating variety of whole foods, meaning foods that have not been processed. A simple way to think about this is: Can you imagine your food growing? It’s easy to imagine a field of corn or apple trees growing. It is much more difficult to imagine a field tortilla chips or bottles of apple juice growing. Eating whole foods allows for optimal nutrient intake for a hard-working mama’s body AND makes nutrient-rich milk for baby. Eat a rainbow of colors and choose organic, locally grown foods whenever possible. Check out our food blog: for great recipes and other tips!

Another very important aspect of infant nutrition is gut health. Probiotics are a hot health topic these days and for good reason. A probiotic is a supplement that provides one’s digestive system with healthy bacteria. We all have billions of bacteria living inside of our intestines. These bacteria have many important roles in the body, including the production of certain vitamins and aiding in the digestion and absorption of the food we eat. And, what many people don’t realize is that gut health is linked to so many aspects of our overall health, including our immune function and our brain health. I find this to be pretty amazing! So, of course, the gut bacteria of our babies is very important indeed. A baby’s gut bacteria is established at birth, as the baby passes through the vaginal canal. The vagina contains abundant bacteria, and the health of a woman’s vaginal bacteria is affected by the health of her own gut bacteria. The take home message here is that vaginal birth is great for a baby’s gut health because it helps establish healthy gut bacteria. Moreover, there is research out of Europe that found babies born at home who are also breastfed exclusively have the highest levels of healthy gut bacteria! All of this being said, some babies need to be born by cesarean section and miss out on exposure to vaginal bacteria. Also, some moms receive antibiotics in labor which can negatively effect a baby’s gut bacteria. It is essential for these babies to receive probiotics after birth. This will help them to establish healthy gut bacteria and will minimize the amount of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria that makes its way into the gut simply from the hospital environment.

I could go on because there is so much I love to share with new parents about infant nutrition and overall health. If you are interested in learning more and exploring naturopathic pediatric care, click here. Three Sisters Midwifery also hosts a free Mothers Group on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 10-12 where we discuss a variety of health topics related to babies and children. Please e-mail me at for more information.

Here are a couple of great links for further reading on a babies’ gut bacteria:

Newborns & Good Gut Bacteria

Colic & Gut Flora Differences

Pregnancy & the Mind


There seems to be an endless list of studies that quantify the many physical and emotional benefits of meditation.  MRI imaging has shown that daily meditation or other mindfulness practice changes the structures of the brain in as little as 8 weeks, increasing gray matter in areas that support empathy, self-awareness, relaxation, and memory while reducing gray matter in areas associated with anxiety and stress.  Meditation has also been shown to boost immune function and improve cardiovascular health.

Pregnancy is commonly a time when women experience greater interest and commitment to improving their health– eating more nutritiously, exercising more regularly, reducing exposure to toxins…  Yet, of all the things we do for health, working with the mind to cultivate internal peace may have the greatest impact overall.

Meditation releases various mood-enhancing, immune-boosting hormones including DHEA, melatonin, and endorphines.  During pregnancy these hormones are passed through the placenta to benefit the baby as well.  A study published in the journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health found that pregnant women who practiced eight weeks of stress reduction techniques showed 20-25% lower levels of stress, anxiety, and negative emotion. Another pilot study in 2006 found that women who practiced yoga and mindfulness reported less physical pain and lower stress while pregnant.

Three Sisters Midwifery wants to support you in your mindfulness practice!   Talk with your midwives about how to integrate relaxation and meditation into your daily routine.  For additional guidance, we encourage you to come to a prenatal yoga class with Jae and register for one of our ongoing HypnoBirthing class series.

HypnoBirthing is a proven method that teaches women and their birth partners techniques to cultivate internal calm and surrender. HypnoBirthing reminds mothers to trust in Nature’s way of birth, to relax and let their bodies do what is needed.  The birthing body and the baby know just what to do.  Through practice, mothers release fear and tension, training the mind and conditioning the body to birth with joy and grace.

Explore the links below to learn more about the biological benefits of relaxation practice and how HypnoBirthing is improving pregnancy and birth experiences.

HypnoBirthing the Mongan Method

HypnoBirthing statistics

HypnoBirthing of Southern Oregon website

Biological benefits of meditation




Spinning Babies

Techniques for a more comfortable pregnancy and easier labor!

Last week the Southern Oregon midwifery community was blessed to have an amazing, all-day workshop with Gail Tully, founder of Spinning Babies.  Gail is an experienced midwife from the mid-west who has dedicated her work to the art and practice of helping pregnant mamas find balance in their bodies.  When the soft tissues and bony structures of the low back, hips, and pelvis are balanced, baby can naturally come in to an optimal position that favors an uncomplicated, natural birth.  Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle (too much time sitting at a computer, sitting in cars, slouching into soft couches…) often leads to tightness and imbalance in our body, especially the pelvic region.  This can cause many discomforts in pregnancy (from aches and pains to poor digestion).  It can also make it hard for a baby to settle in to an optimal birth position.  To restore balance, healthy tone, and relaxation, Gail recommends several daily exercises and relaxation postures:

1. Forward leaning inversion

2. Brisk walking with a full stride to stretch the psoas muscles

3. Pelvic tilts

4. Psoas release posture

5. Hip openers (hand-through-the-whole & leg stretch with strap)

6. Rest smart

Following this practice regularly will support a comfortable pregnancy and an easier labor!  Find detailed instructions from the Spinning Babies website here.

In addition, chiropractic and cranial sacral therapy can address issues that are more specific to your body.  Ask your midwife for recommendations.


HypnoBirthing Video Montage!

Watch and Hear what parents are saying about their birthing experience with HypnoBirthing.

THIS LINK includes labor and birth scenes too!.

HypnoBirthing makes a difference no matter where you plan to birth.  Our next class series starts on April 6th, in Jacksonville OR.  Preregister for this class by calling 541-833-0999 or CONTACT US and then return to any class in any other series during your pregnancy.


Check out the Events Calendar to look for dates!